Kashmir has been observing shutdown for the past 25-years to commemorate the death anniversary of Muhammad Maqbool Bhat but on that day (Feb 11, 1984) when he was executed in New Delhi’s Tihar jail, Kashmiris acted as mute spectators and those who protested faced the wrath of their immediate bosses.
While talking to a local news agency CNS, the veteran leader and patron of Mahaz-e-Azadi Azam Inqalabi, a close aide of late Maqbool Bhat said: “Those days people of Kashmir used to tune in to Radio Pakistan at 8:30 pm in the evening. I was shocked when the news reader concluded its news without mentioning about the hanging episode. Radio Pakistan broke the news at 5:30 pm in the evening but maintained silence at 8:30 pm, when majority of the Kashmiri population listened to it carefully.”
The MeA patron, who spent 7 months with late Maqbool Bhat in Pakistan said, “He (Maqbool) was a force to reckon with.”
Inqalabi said that two days before the execution of Maqbool Bhat, India Pakistan Foreign Secretary meeting was held in New Delhi and probably during the meeting Pakistan had given a green signal to India to go ahead with the execution of Maqbool Bhat. “I love Pakistan and for me it is the only country in the world which feels the pain of Kashmiri people but that day I was shocked why it didn’t broadcast the news about Bhat’s hanging. Later on I came to know that Pakistan allowed India to hang Maqbool to make Kashmiri people feel that they are a subjugated lot,” Azam Inqalabi said.
He said that those days people of Kashmir were in slumber and Pakistan was just trying to awake them and thus did not react over the hanging of Maqbool Bhat. “Today you see strike, clashes, tear gas shelling and what not on February 11, but that day Kashmiri people acted as ignorant and did not react at all.
“A high profile advocate and a member of Jamaat-e-Islami Advocate Muhammad Ashraf organized a protest in Baramulla against Bhat’s hanging. To my surprise and shock, he was expelled from the membership of Jamat-e-Islami by the then Amir Jamat Pir Saiduddin for organizing a protest and expressing solidarity with Maqbool Bhat’s family,” Inqalabi said.
“That time Mirwaiz Moulvi Muhammad Farooq failed to take a stand because he was in a fix what to do. India had distorted vilified and disfigured the image of Bhat to such an extent that no Kashmiri was ready to protest in favour of Maqbool Bhat. Late Molvi Farooq failed to differentiate between propaganda and reality and thus did not protest or act,” he said.
Lauding the role of Late Abdul Gani Lone, Azam Inqalabi said that he was the only mainstream politician those days who protested against the hanging of Muhammad Maqbool Bhat. “Lone was vocal and an ardent supporter of Kashmir cause. On his call, people of Handwara and Kupwara observed a complete shutdown on that day. He (Abdul Gani Lone) was the only person who expressed solidarity with the bereaved family of Maqbool Bhat and criticized India for hanging the son of soil. Lone was the true friend of Kashmiri people and he dedicated his whole life for them. He was vocal, orator, pro-Kashmiri and a high profile resistance leader who lost his life just because he advocated the cause of Kashmiris and gave a drabbing to some Pakistani state actors in Dubai,” he said adding that Abdul Gani Lone was a true son of soil and an articulate politician.
When asked what was the role of Syed Ali Geelani that day, Azam Inqalabi said that Geelani, Ashraf Sehrai, Qari Saifuddin, Farooq Rehmani, Ghulam Qadir Wani and others were in prison and were not allowed by India to express their solidarity with the bereaved family.
“Abdul Majeed later a Hizb commander who was killed during an encounter enforced a shutdown in Sopore that day, though people were not willing to observe a strike. Dar was brave enough to force people to shut their shops and stay indoors on Feb 11, 1984 but in Srinagar and other parts of Kashmir except Handwara, Kupwara and Sopore, the hanging of Maqbool Bhat bothered least,” he said.
Asked why people of Kashmir did not protest against the hanging of Maqbool Bhat, Azam Inqalabi said that Bhat was fighting for an independent Kashmir while in Kashmir most of the pro-Pakistani organizations did not take the matter seriously and remained numb because for them Bhat was pro-Kashmiri and not an ardent supporter of Pakistan. CNS